The Welsh Government’s largest sponsored body, Natural Resources Wales (NRW), which employs 1,900 staff throughout Wales with a budget of £180 million, is in contention to win a major award at the Apprenticeship Awards Cymru 2015.
The organisation, which was formed in 2013 to take over the functions of the Countryside Council for Wales, Forestry Commission Wales and the Environment Agency in Wales, is one of three finalists in the Large Employer of the Year category at the high profile awards ceremony to be held at the Celtic Manor Resort, Newport on Thursday, October 29.
The coveted awards celebrate the outstanding achievements of those who have exceeded expectations, shown a dynamic approach to training and demonstrated initiative, enterprise, innovation, creativity and commitment to the improvement of skills development for the Welsh economy.
Jointly organised by the Welsh Government and the National Training Federation for Wales (NTfW), the awards are sponsored by Pearson PLC and media partner is Media Wales. The Apprenticeship Programme in Wales is funded by the Welsh Government with support from the European Social Fund.
An Apprenticeship programme, Cyfoeth ICT, was launched by NRW to help amalgamate and integrate the organisation’s different systems, specifically in Information and Communication Technology.
“We are passionate about the future of ICT within our organisation and established Apprenticeships to bring in talented and enthusiastic people to support our future needs,” said Mark Diggle, ICT service manager for continuous improvement at NRW.
“We developed our ICT Apprenticeship programme in combination with Microsoft and established learning provider, Acorn Learning Solutions, to build highly skilled IT professionals.”
One of the primary goals of the Apprenticeship programme was to raise IT skills capability in Wales. The organisation currently employs five apprentices, having launched the programme two years ago with 14 coming through the system. Nine have completed their two-year Apprenticeship and have obtained permanent, full time employment with NRW.
“We have a complete training schedule for every apprentice over their two year Apprenticeship, so they know exactly what is required and when over the lifetime of the programme,” added Mark.
The Apprenticeship programme has had a direct benefit to NRW in aiding the delivery of a challenging two-year IT transition project from three networks.
Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology Julie James congratulated NRW and the other 36 award finalists. “We have some truly exceptional apprentices here in Wales and the Apprenticeship Awards Cymru provide a perfect platform for us to celebrate their hard work and achievements,” she said.
“Equally important are the training providers and employers who go the extra mile to support their apprentices. Developing skilled young people is vital for our economy. The Welsh Government is committed to training programmes such as Apprenticeships but investment must be a shared responsibility with the education sector, businesses and individuals.”